For a club of its stature, Liverpool’s FA cup record is nothing spectacular (the same number of wins as Aston Villa) but it’s a hell of a lot better than it was in the early 60s, when I started to follow the Reds. Then we’d reached two cup finals and lost them both.
Any argument with a Blue was likely to be ended with a crushing, ‘How many times have you won the cup?’ There was even a story that Liverpool would never win the FA cup as long as the Liver Birds were atop the Liver Building (a sort of Scouse version of the Golden Virgin ofAlbert). Many a childhood visit to the Pier Head was ruined by a glimpse of the Liver Birds, mockingly refusing to take flight, much like the Red’s cup campaigns.
Even when we had a team fit to challenge, the Cup brought us heartache. In the promotion season we were knocked out after a second replay by Preston, a team we beat comfortably twice in the League.
The following season we saw off top flight opposition in rounds 4, 5 and 6 only to succumb to an inspired Gordon Banks in the semi-final. In1964 we were heading for the league title and a home draw against Swansea in the 6th round of the cup should have presented no difficulties. We managed to lose 2-1, with the normally reliable Ronnie Moran having a penalty saved. It seemed that we were cursed never to win the cup.
Maybe the following season the cups were the priority as our defence of the league title was unconvincing but we reached the semi-final of the European Cup and the final of the FA cup where we were to play Leeds, who had just missed out on the League title.
I watched the game on TV but can remember nothing about it. I believe it was the first Cup final to finish goalless and, at the time, thecritics derided it as a bore-fest but in extra-time the Reds emerged triumphant with goals from Roger Hunt and Ian St John trumping BillyBremner’s equaliser. I can remember seeing Ron Yeats lift that cup and it was indeed a sight for sore eyes. The hoodoo had been broken and Liverpool have won the cup a further six times but none can have been greeted with such rapture.
Liverpool: Lawrence; Lawler, Byrne, Yeats, Smith; Strong, Stevenson; Callaghan, Hunt, St John, Thompson: